India will pay heavy price in the long run, if it continues to compromise its superiority in military power balance vis-à-vis China and Pakistan.
Both, China and Pakistan have a diabolical plan to destabilize India notwithstanding the pretensions and overtures of peace whenever it requires strategic breathing space. New Delhi should be mindful of this trap and under no circumstances allow the depletion of its military machine. Pakistan continues to orchestrate its destabilizing designs against India not only through the western borders but through Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well. Ultimately, India will be compelled to neutralize its military and punish Pakistan to deter its inimical activities.
In war there are no runners up!
Therefore, the diabolical threats posed by Pakistan and its regional patron China necessitates major investments in our defence capabilities to ensure our territorial and social integrity, both in short and long terms.
The Indian Air Force by the end of next year will be left with 30 squadrons as against the sanctioned strength of 45 due to aging process and tardy replacement policy. If the requirements and shortcomings of the IAF are not urgently addressed, it may lose its edge vis-à-vis the PAF. It boasts of no edge over China in any case! While Indian air power needs to secure air space on multiple fronts, PAF has one single front, i.e. India.
While Indian air power needs to secure air space on multiple fronts, PAF has one single front, i.e. India.
Similarly to advocate that since latest fighter aircrafts pack more punch, and therefore, we can get along with thirty squadrons is erroneous, as the adversary also packs similar punch with his latest acquisitions! Besides India as a regional power compared to a sub-regional power like Pakistan, has a larger role in Asia and thus, bean counting cannot lead to the correct measure of its defence requirements.
It is a geopolitical reality that India is ringed by failed/failing states that include Pakistan (land boundary with India 3310 kilometers) in the northwest, Nepal (land boundary with India 1751 kilometers) in the north, Bangladesh (land boundary with India 4095 kilometers) in the southeast, and Myanmar (land boundary with India 1463 kilometers) in the northeast. India’s internal security is inextricably linked with the prevailing attitude and environment in Islamabad.
Most critically, to our North, there is China, with which India shares a 3440 km long unsettled border and it poses not only conventional, nuclear and missile threat but also uses Pakistan to tie down India strategically in the region. It has also been trying to circumscribe India by making strategic inroads into Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal. India’s 14,058 km long land frontier, therefore, is impacted by hostile or semi-hostile environment. Failed/failing states export instability, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, arms and drugs.
Diplomacy and military power are two sides of the same coin. Investment in upkeep and more importantly modernization of military not only deters inimical powers from intervening in the internal affairs of the country and disrupt its well-being, but also ensures its unhindered growth. Therefore, to ensure territorial integrity of the nation, protection of the society and its values and promotion of other vital national interests like energy security, trade and commerce; it is incumbent on India to upgrade its military power in consonance with its economic growth and increase of its strategic horizon.
Failed/failing states export instability, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, arms and drugs.
Unfortunately, what many of us are unable to grasp is the basic fact that building sufficient military power is a time consuming process. To visualize the challenges to its security, identify weapon systems to meet emerging threats evaluate, induct and integrate it — and to conduct appropriate training of troops to be able to use it optimally takes many years. Weapons systems unlike toothpaste cannot be bought off the shelf and inducted.
As an illustration, to build and operate an ocean going navy requires backward planning of a minimum fifty years. If New Delhi does not develop sufficient military surplus and the intentions of a hostile power change overnight, we will flounder in face of external aggression. In war there are no runners up.
It is an indisputable fact that a country, which modernizes its military wherewithal ahead of time, deters the adversary from waging war, owing to the adverse cost-benefit-ratio. Therefore, we can ignore the modernization of the defence forces at our peril.
Investment in upkeep and more importantly modernization of military not only deters inimical powers from intervening in the internal affairs of the country and disrupt its well-being, but also ensures its unhindered growth.
Historically, the most critical axis for India is New Delhi-Kabul-Tehran-Moscow. For many centuries this is the land route of invasions and will remain so. Also, as the second largest consumer of oil and gas in Asia, energy security is the most critical factor in our calculus.
By 2010, a substantial amount of oil and gas will be delivered by Central Asia. Therefore, it is vital to invest in military capabilities despite the lull before the storm, because Pakistan, whose primary strategic objective is to destabilize India, falls on this route. To secure ourselves, we need to establish total dominance over this axis. It is imperative for India, therefore, to compel Pakistan to shed its belligerence, which cannot be done without a formidable military, and does not necessarily mean its employment.
The purpose of military power is to deter, failing which neutralize and ultimately destroy. The main prerequisite for each one of these is modern and effective military wherewithal. The process of military modernization entails:
- Modernization of manpower
- Modernization of weapon systems
- Modernization in defense infrastructure
- Modernization in training
- Modernization in professional orientation
A soldier today needs to be technically savvy, physically and mentally robust. The distinction between low intensity conflict and conventional wars is increasingly becoming blurred. Even, conventional wars with high technology component in deciding the outcome finally results in low intensity engagements, wherein the nature of operations, political and other constraints, negate the technological superiority that highly developed militaries of states enjoy. The case of Iraq is evidence in this regard.
Therefore, military today has to be trained and prepared to switch roles which is not an easy proposition and places immense importance on the quality of recruitment and subsequent training. In present day India, if the armed forces have to compete with the civil and corporate sector in drawing of manpower, the pay and perks have to be competitive to recruit personnel with the best mix of head, heart and body.
..the most difficult part of the exercise is modernization of military minds and also minds of the civilian leadership, whose understanding of matters defense is far from desired and does not behoove of aspiring regional power and important international player.
The emerging nature of warfare against non-state actors requires every effective response from small subunits and teams led by efficient junior leaders. It is time that the country begins to invest in recruiting, training and professional enhancement of the junior leaders. They also need to be invested with more prestige, authority and responsibility. Section commanders, platoon commanders and troop leaders have been rendered irrelevant over the years. The same is true for the Air Force and Navy.
The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) has passed through various stages i.e. the invention of gun-powder, then the internal combustion engine, aircraft, rocket and missile technology, and finally nuclear technology. India missed out on each of these stages. Babur could not have established his rule over India without his artillery guns. The British could not have supplanted the Mughals without a more formidable and modern Naval war machine. The inexorable march of RMA has now led to Precision Guided Munitions (PGM), Network Centric Warfare, Satellite-based weapon systems, and unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles.
India after 40 years has just been able to replace its 7.62mm self-loading rifles with the 5.56mm INSAS whose efficacy is being questioned in many quarters. There are a large number of skeptics with regard to the country-made Arjun tanks. Leave alone a fighter aircraft; we have not been able to produce a small passenger aircraft. This is primarily because we began to lag woefully ever since the first modern RMA took place in the 14th century. Indigenization of arms industry is a laudable objective, however, the legitimate requirements of the armed forces cannot be hostage to it.
Moreover, practicality demands that the lag be covered by indulgence of the private sector and collaboration with arms manufacturers abroad. Japan embarked on the same course soon after World War-II and China now has adopted the similar course.
Nuclear technology is no longer the preserve of the elite, apart from the known and declared powers, there are more than 60 countries that can be termed as threshold nuclear powers. It is not a fantasy to assume that a few decades hence, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar may be brandishing their own nuclear arsenal given the proliferating nature of nuclear technology ushered in by China and its protégée Pakistan. India’s military machine must be fully geared to fight in an NBC environment, which so far has been more of an exercise in academics.
The modernization of defense infrastructure entails the modernization of naval bases, air bases, and military cantonments. Most of these were inherited from the British. Since warfare and India as such have both moved much beyond, there is a need to upgrade these to meet the needs of accommodating and maintaining modern military machine. Our training facilities also need to be modernized to make training more realistic and warlike.
Above all, the most difficult part of the exercise is modernization of military minds and also minds of the civilian leadership, whose understanding of matters defence is far from desired and does not behoove of aspiring regional power and important international player. The need of the hour is military awareness with regard to contemporary ideas and developments, and dovetailing them into our defence and strategic posturing.